"Before you can search for truth, you must be interested in finding it." -Miroslav Volf

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Merton Prayer

I read the prayer below at a recent Christian Spirituality area meeting—a monthly gathering of GTU faculty and students in my field for business and story-telling, essentially.

I read this prayer because sometimes when I pray out loud it just kind of goes on and on, or includes too many “ums” and “justs”, or sounds like I’m creating a mini-sermon for my hearers, or sounds like I’m trying to impress people with the depth and craft of my prayer.

So appropriating someone else’s prayer often seems more fitting, as there are plenty of people who can pray better than I can pray…including Thomas Merton. I also read it because I believe humility, trust, and hope are necessary virtues for my academic peers and I, given the journey we’re on.


Merton: My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. (from Thoughts In Solitude)


Perhaps you don’t feel the same level of angst Merton seems to be working through in this prayer, nor the same skepticism about his own ability to know—to know the good and the right. But maybe something here strikes you.

For me, it's a call to honesty with myself and others.

It's a call to humility about my ability to know God’s will (and the need to not wrongly use “God’s will” as a means of power over others...or to deceive myself into a false sense of peace...or to stress myself out looking for that "right" path).

It's a call to be less hard on myself in my failures to be virtuous.

It's a call to consider that the spiritual life might not be about God getting me out of trouble but, rather, suffering alongside with me, helping me endure.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

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